Written by TC PHILLIPS
Sam Raimi has revealed that prior to landing the coveted gig directing 2002’s Spider-Man he was Sony’s 19th choice for the job. The first film to earn over $100 million in a single weekend, the original Spider-Man film was applauded for its casting and set the bar for all the superhero films which would follow it. Starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst as Mary-Jane Watson, and Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn (AKA the Green Goblin), the film is still highly regarded as one of the best Marvel films ever made.
Raimi, who is perhaps best known as the creator of The Evil Dead franchise, also has several successful television projects under his belt including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and its spinoff series Xena: Warrior Princess. Prior to his being selected to helm Sony’s first live-action Spider-Man adaptation, plans for a Spider-Man film had been languishing in development hell since the 1980s. Even Terminator and Avatar’s James Cameron had been attached to the project at one point, prior to Sony Pictures acquiring the film rights in 1998 and beginning their own hunt for a suitable director.
Now 20 years on, Raimi and many of the film’s executives sat down with Variety to discuss how the film responsible for changing the face of the modern superhero film came to be. Referencing a long list of potential candidates being considered for the job, Rami recalled that there were “about 18 directors they’d rather have” than himself. Check out his full comments below:
"My agent, Josh Donen, said, ‘They want to be honest with you. There’s about 18 directors they’d rather have than you on a list. And I said, ‘OK, well, tell them I’m number 19.'"
Some of the other names being floated for the job included Tim Burton, Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, Barry Sonnenfeld, Ang Lee, Chris Columbus, Jan de Bont, and M. Night Shyamalan. Thankfully, however, Raimi was selected and was able to lend his unique visual and comedic style to what would eventually become one of the most seminal works in the emerging genre. While it was a far cry from the low-budget horror fare he had cut his teeth on as a young director, much of what made Raimi’s earlier work resonate with audiences would inevitably translate into the big-budget blockbuster.
Nowadays, Raimi is set to return to the Marvel movie fold with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Between this latest comic-book outing, and the recent return of Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man: No Way Home, his legacy as one of the founding fathers of the modern superhero film will inevitably continue to dominate the both the box office and the collective attention of the Marvel fandom. No doubt fans could not possibly envision anyone else other than Raimi at the helm of 2002’s original Spider-Man film.